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Why do we fear death when we believe in eternal life?

We have been taught that because of Christ’s sacrifice, we will arise from the grave and live for eternity. Additionally, we know if we live worthily, we will have the opportunity to live with our eternal companion and family in the Celestial kingdom. I have a firm testimony that this promise by our Heavenly Father is true. Yet, even with this firm testimony I still fear death. I still fear that one day my kids will not look before they cross the street and will not come back home. I fear that my wife will get in a car accident and will pass on to the next life. These feelings seem to be contradictory. If I believe in eternal life, why am I so fearful of losing my loved ones? I will see them again and get to live with them for eternity.

The answer came to me while I was listening to a song by For King and Country. The song is entitled Without You.

At the beginning of the song, the singer shares how he was very sick at one point in life his and he was not sure he was going to make it. He shares his experience about having is wife tell him “Just don’t leave.” In listening to this song, it hit me that what I truly fear about death is not that I will not see my wife or kids again. Rather, I fear being apart from them for the rest of my life until we are reunited. I love my family so much, that I can hardly imagine what my life would be like without them.

This answer was further reinforced as I read Elder Nelson’s 1992 conference talk “Doors of Death.” In the talk, Elder Nelson shares:

Recently at the funeral of a friend, I visited with two distinguished brothers—former surgical colleagues of mine—whose lovely companions had both passed away. They said they were going through the most difficult period of their lives, adjusting to the almost unbearable loss of their partners. These wonderful men then told of their cooking breakfast for each other once a week—sharing that rotation with their sister—trying to lessen their loneliness imposed by the doors of death.

The fear of loss and loneliness, even with a firm testimony of the saving power of our Savior is still a difficult trial to face. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity further explains our fear of loneliness. In part, the theory of relativity explains that the concept of time may change based on what we are measuring it in relation to. For example, during the happiest days of our lives (marriage or the birth of a child) time may go too fast, as we want these days to last forever. Yet, when we lose a loved one, time may be at a near standstill as we want nothing more but than those days to end. While the hours on the clock may tick by just the same in both circumstances, the same amount of time may pass by very differently.

While facing this fear, I have found that keeping an eternal perspective aids in alleviating this fear. I remind myself that life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death. Should a loss of a loved one occur, while the loss may seem to stretch on as the days feel like near eternity, an eternal perspective allows me to see that relative to the eternities, my loss is only a short period of time before we are once again reunited with our loved ones, never to be separated again.

Why do we fear death when we believe in eternal life?

So let us fear not but be believing as we “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Ne. 31:20).

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